A clumsy pass over dinner is NOT sex harassment

By Sarah Vine for the Daily Mail

Published: 20:45 EDT, 17 October 2017 | Updated: 04:30 EDT, 18 October 2017

The ¿MeToo¿ protest was initiated by actress Alyssa Milano, who played one of the witchy sisters in long-running TV show Charmed
The ¿MeToo¿ protest was initiated by actress Alyssa Milano, who played one of the witchy sisters in long-running TV show Charmed

The ‘MeToo’ protest was initiated by actress Alyssa Milano, who played one of the witchy sisters in long-running TV show Charmed

The shaming of Harvey Weinstein has, in many ways, held up a mirror to society. In particular, it has taught us a lot about modern-day morality and the politics of sex.

Some of it we already knew. It’s no surprise, for example, to discover that Hollywood is full of sleaze-bags.

Other aspects have been more shocking, in particular the extent to which Weinstein’s behaviour was an ‘open secret’ in the entertainment industry and the degree to which others — many of whom consider themselves feminists — ignored and even facilitated his atrocious behaviour.

The hypocrisy, too, has been alarming. I kept waiting for Nicole Kidman to mention the allegations against Weinstein during her appearance on The Graham Norton Show last Friday — but strangely the conversation never got around to it. 

And yet she worked with Weinstein on numerous film projects, including Cold Mountain, The Others, Nine and Lion — for which she received an Oscar nomination.

Did she really have no opinion to offer on the biggest story to hit Hollywood since Marilyn Monroe was found dead next to an empty bottle of sleeping pills at the age of 36?

Meanwhile Hillary Clinton, in the UK to publicise her new book, professed herself outraged at the notion that Weinstein’s generous financial donations to her Democratic campaign might seem at odds with her image as an advocate for women’s rights.

Nor, for that matter, did she seem unduly preoccupied by the glaring parallels between Mr Weinstein’s behaviour and that of her predatory husband during his time as President of the United States of America.

Some of it we already knew. It¿s no surprise, for example, to discover that Hollywood is full of sleaze-bags. Pictured: Harvey Weinstein
Some of it we already knew. It¿s no surprise, for example, to discover that Hollywood is full of sleaze-bags. Pictured: Harvey Weinstein

Some of it we already knew. It’s no surprise, for example, to discover that Hollywood is full of sleaze-bags. Pictured: Harvey Weinstein

But perhaps even worse than all this has been the shameless way in which so many have jumped on the bandwagon of Weinstein’s fall from grace, and used the suffering of the women he abused as an opportunity to indulge in two of the greatest vices of our social media age: virtue signalling and look-at-me-ism.

One conduit for this indulgence is the #MeToo hashtag — the latest incarnation of all those absurd ‘Je suis’-type hashtags that start trending after any terrorist atrocity or freak weather event.

The ‘MeToo’ protest was initiated by actress Alyssa Milano, who played one of the witchy sisters in long-running TV show Charmed. 

Last Friday she tweeted: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’

Since then, predictably, it has gone viral, and been joined by celebrities from Lady Gaga to Lily Allen. The female commentariat, no doubt hoping to boost their chances of making it onto the Woman’s Hour Power List, has also expressed its approval of #MeToo.

Lumping together every woman¿s experience of goatish men via some stupid hashtag like MeToo is an act of intolerable insensitivity
Lumping together every woman¿s experience of goatish men via some stupid hashtag like MeToo is an act of intolerable insensitivity

Lumping together every woman’s experience of goatish men via some stupid hashtag like MeToo is an act of intolerable insensitivity

But not one of those who’ve contributed to it appears to have stopped to consider the repercussions of their desire to land a part in this gruesome drama: how, by clambering onto its hashtag bandwagon with their own often utterly banal stories, they risk trivialising the suffering of victims of genuine abuse.

It’s as if a clumsy pass at a dinner party is now sex harassment.

This thought struck me when the BBC correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan was interviewed by Sarah Montague on Radio 4’s Today programme.

Her #MeToo trauma consisted of finding herself left alone in a restaurant with a colleague and him telling her that he felt very attracted to her.

 Of course the experience was unpleasant for her, but if that’s sexual harassment then I wonder what on Earth she would have made of the incident that occurred 20-or-so years ago in the female changing area of Stoke Newington swimming pool, when a naked woman entered my cubicle with amorous intent (#itsnotalwaystheman’sfault).

The truth is that most of us — male and female — will at some point have been the subject of unwanted sexual attention. This may have made us feel embarrassed, uncomfortable — or, as in my case, rather surprised.

But to compare incidents such as this with the awful things some of Weinstein’s victims had to endure is to belittle the very serious nature of the crime of sex abuse and the suffering of its victims.

Lumping together every woman’s experience of goatish men via some stupid hashtag like MeToo is an act of intolerable insensitivity. It is also, in many ways, as damaging as maintaining a conspiracy of silence.

Just one more thing on the EU and then I will shut up, I promise. 

Far-Right MPs are preparing to take their seats in the German Bundestag, and Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s 31-year-old new leader, is likely to do a deal with a ‘kingmaker’ party founded by a Nazi.

So how do all those who — wrongly — accuse Leave voters of being racists and ‘Fascists’ now feel about the EU’s glorious federalist project?

Sebastian Kurz, Austria¿s 31-year-old new leader, is likely to do a deal with a ¿kingmaker¿ party founded by a Nazi
Sebastian Kurz, Austria¿s 31-year-old new leader, is likely to do a deal with a ¿kingmaker¿ party founded by a Nazi

Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s 31-year-old new leader, is likely to do a deal with a ‘kingmaker’ party founded by a Nazi

Kensington Palace has issued a press release stating that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby in April. 

Well, yes, that’s lovely, but a) didn’t we already know, and b) what else would she be pregnant with? 

Reports that Philip ‘Spreadsheet’ Hammond is preparing a Corbyn-beating Budget are deeply worrying. 

Playing fast and loose with the country’s finances simply in order to appease a group of people — Corbynistas — who are never going to vote Conservative anyway is the worst kind of short-term politics. 

Brexit: Damned if we dare 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker talks of ‘accelerating’ Brexit negotiations, but it’s clear that Brussels is determined to be as obstructive as it can.

It’s not just Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron ratcheting up demands: the rot goes far deeper. This, at least, was what one former member-state minister explained to me at the Cliveden Literary Festival this weekend.

Brussels’s main worry is that if Brexit is a success it will cause a rush for the exit from other member states.

Aww... If only all men looked at their wives the way Jean-Claude Juncker looks at a glass of wine
Aww... If only all men looked at their wives the way Jean-Claude Juncker looks at a glass of wine

Aww... If only all men looked at their wives the way Jean-Claude Juncker looks at a glass of wine

This means that all efforts are now focused on ensuring that Britain gets the worst possible deal so we can be made an example of. Leave, and Brussels will do everything in its power to destroy us.

If the Government collapses and Corbyn is elected, that will be our punishment for daring to stand up to the elites in Brussels.

Gordon’s School in Woking, Surrey — an outstanding boarding school whose patron is the Queen — is to allow boys who self-define as female to sleep in the girls’ dorms. 

I’m all for self-expression, but if I know anything about teenage boys, the school is going to find itself with a veritable trans epidemic on their hands.

Conspiracy? It just doesn't add up 

If you haven’t already, I urge you to buy a copy of my colleague Quentin Letts’s hilarious new book, Patronising Bastards: How The Elites Destroyed Britain.

For one thing Polly Toynbee absolutely hates it, which is as good a guarantee of quality as you will ever get.

For another, it has the funniest and most politically incorrect description of Camila Batmanghelidjh you will ever read. She, you may remember, was the woman behind Kids Company — a charity that claimed to be helping turn around the lives of tens of thousands of children.

In reality, Batmanghelidjh was presiding over a chaotic organisation which went bust two years ago, shortly after the Cabinet Office had approved a new Government grant of £3 million. Now Batmanghelidjh is back, promoting her own book, Kids, and claiming that the revelations (unearthed by Newsnight) that led to her downfall were all part of a Government conspiracy.

Quite why a Government would want to bring down an organisation in which it had already invested £47million of taxpayers’ money is anyone’s guess. But logic was never Batmanghelidjh’s forte. 

Pupils at the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, South London, have each been given a free alarm clock to encourage them not to take their mobile phones to bed with them.

It’s a clever idea. But why don’t mobile phone providers take the initiative and offer a ‘child’ contract, where the network gets switched off between, say, 9pm and 6am? As a parent myself, I would snap it up.


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